Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Additional Resources

Visit the Drew School website; 415.409.3739.

For more information about the Drew School Sam Cuddeback Assembly Wing Vertical Garden, contact Bonnie Fisher at: and Patrick Blanc at:

Case Studies

Patrick Blanc. See more photos of the living wall from May 1, 2015 in California Native Green Wall Revisited by DryStoneGarden and from March 20, 2013 of the living wall and greenroof on Rana Creek’s Facebook page.


Watch the August 31, 2015 2:34 Drew School Sam Cuddeback III Assembly Wing Vertical Garden – Project of the Week 8/31/15 video from on the greenroofsTV channel on YouTube; 4:31  The Drew Dynamic from Drew School on Vimeo.

See Patrick Blanc’s video presentation to the Drew School of February, 2011 from the Greenroofs & Walls of the World(TM) Virtual Summit 2011, which includes a half hour exclusive interview with Patrick by Linda Velazquez of – The Vertical Garden – from Nature to Cities: An Interview with Patrick Blanc.


Video & Project of the Week for August 31, 2015: Drew School Sam Cuddeback III Assembly Wing Vertical Garden by Linda Velazquez on; September 1, 2013 Drew School’s Beautiful Living Wall by boZannical Gardens; July 17, 2012 blog post by Eco Heirlooms on Tumblr; April, 2011 Off the Wall by Joanne Furio in San Francisco Magazine; March 6, 2011 Patrick Blanc green garden comes to Drew School by Joe Easton and Ron Sullivan in; October 27, 2009 Botanist’s green walls take plants to new level by John King in SFGate.

Founded in 1908 by the respected Bay Area educator John Sheehan Drew, the Drew School has grown from a one student “coaching school” to a fully accredited co-educational college preparatory school enrolling 250 students in grades 9 through 12. Drew School moved to its present location in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco in 1911.

“Drew School believes in teenagers —their ideas, their dreams, their opinions, and their potential. That’s why we’ve created a high school community that challenges the traditional definition of success and celebrates achievement one student at a time. The result is that our students develop into fascinating individuals who are sought after by colleges and who know themselves well when they step out into the world.” ~ Drew School.

Opened in 2011, the $15 million Drew School Sam Cuddeback III Assembly Wing, performing arts space, and classroom building is among the first high school buildings in the Bay Area to attain LEED Gold Certification for New Construction and for School Pilot. Green features of the new assembly wing include an external 1,720 sf living wall/vertical garden by Patrick Blanc, a 2,630 sf living roof by Rana Creek, recycled and sustainable USGBC-certified materials, and environmental sensors. For example, the wall facing the courtyard is clad with durable Guatemalan Machiche wood, certified by Forest Stewardship Council.

The plan started in 2007 when school leaders proposed a plan to accommodate student growth: demolish a three-unit 1891 Victorian residential complex on Broderick Street, and build the 14,500-square-foot addition with a three-story assembly and classroom wing to complement its campus at the corner of California and Broderick streets, where Drew has been located for almost a century. The school hoped the new wing would open in fall 2008, yet due to legal challenges, it finally had its soft opening in April, 2011.

Architects Bonnie Fisher and Boris Dramov of San Francisco’s Roma Design Group, designers of the new wing, brought Patrick Blanc in as part of the design team after seeing many of his projects in Paris. The duo considered Blanc “as a natural for a building intended to embody sustainability and green design.

“This being a highly urban site, there’s not a lot of space in which to show those values at work,” Fisher said. “Patrick creates mind-blowing, complex landscapes – we thought, ‘how perfect would that be?’ It can contribute to the neighborhood and also help students develop a deeper understanding of environmental systems,” SFGate, 2009.

Covering the street side wall of the new Sam Cuddeback III Assembly Wing, the 3-story vertical garden is made up of about 4,579 native Californian plants and approximately 64 of the 105 species are from the San Francisco Bay area. The vertical garden and greenroof combined cover about 30% of the building surfaces, or approximately 4,350 sf of plants, which is double the size of the original parcel of land from the 1800’s. The greenwall plants were arranged from sun loving down to shade loving understory species; just a few include flannelbush, Red buckwheat, Douglas iris, Santa Rosa Island sage, blue-eyed grass, silver lupine, mountain pride, scarlet monkeyflower, chaparral or purple nightshade, keckiella, aster, festuca, mimulus, ginger, California fuchsia, Channel Island ubsh snapdragon, bush anemone, and maidenhair fern.

The hydroponic system delivers water supplemented with a low concentration of nutrients to the roots automatically from the top, four to five times a day. Students study the plants on the wall as a living lab for many subjects such as botany, chemistry, and physics; one example was studying native plant uses by American Indians.

In 2013 ROMA Design Group received a Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Award of Excellence for the Drew School Exterior Green Wall – see the profile.

Rana Creek installed the 2,630 sf living roof with 1,252 18-inch coconut-fiber biotrays filled with a lava rock gravel growing medium. A subsurface irrigation system waters the roof once a day, seven days a week. In 2012, Dimitri Meierhofer from the Green Roof Competence Center at the University of Applied Science (ZHAW) in Zurich, Switzerland set beetle traps here for a study of beetle populations on living roofs. Another scientist installed artificial habitats for a study of solitary pollinators, such as bumblebees. The living wall and the greenroof attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and more beneficial fauna.

Besides being an extraordinary educational resource for the high school, the Drew School Vertical Garden brings a vibrant lushness to the public environment of San Francisco.


Our Sponsors